Change in the Middle of a COVID-19 Crisis
You still must get things done. The organization needs to make changes to adapt to a more turbulent world. However, how do you accomplish change when the organization’s change capacity is used coping with COVID-19? Learn why change management skills are more critical now than ever.
Capacity for Change
Every person and every organization has a capacity for change. It’s the degree of change they can accept before problems occur.
Problems may be a breakdown of the organization; for an individual, it might be a mental breakdown. While the capacity for change appears fixed, it is not.
The capacity for change that individuals and organizations have is based in large part on how well – or poorly – the change is managed. Managed with good communications, clear expectations, and support, a rather large change seems minor. Conversely, even the slightest change, managed poorly, can become a big deal.
The COVID-19 Changes
COVID-19 has created many changes in everyone’s life, but, more importantly, it’s shaken the trust that we have in the society we live in. For most people, the toilet paper shortages, bare shelves, and random out-of-stock situation threw them into the need to reevaluate. Where a person might not think about maintaining a freezer with frozen food, suddenly, the possibility of a meat shortage creates a real reason. The shaken confidence in our supply chain and the belief that we can get anything we want within two days changed when even Amazon wasn’t shipping orders for a month.
Schools and businesses closing for months to help prevent the spread of the disease and concerns for the number of ventilators available in your local hospital’s intensive care unit increased fear and anxiety in ways that no living person could remember. In short, we all became a little less certain about the things we take for granted.
Change Management is Fear Reduction
There are numerous techniques and tools that you use to accomplish the goals of change management, but much of what change managers do is to intentionally reduce fear in employees.
The focus on communications ensures that people understand the change and what it means for them personally. Done correctly, the communications stop the fear associated with our brain’s natural tendency to play worst-case scenario.
Worst-case scenario exercises can be good. When done reasonably, they can help us plan for negative outcomes and work towards better solutions. However, every game of worst-case scenario can go off the rails and have us huddled up in the corner in a fetal position. Good communication as a part of a change management effort heads off the bad paths in the worst-case scenario game, so fewer people end up dwelling in the fjords of fear.
Risk management, which is a part of proper project management that itself is intimately connected with change management, seeks to identify real risks and devise ways to avoid or mitigate the risk. On the one hand, change management speaks directly to the individual and their personal change journey. On the other hand, it identifies the various ways that things may break.
Overflowing with Fear
Change management identifies the risks but also looks into the people who work in the organization and reassures them emotionally as well as rationally, so that fear is reduced, and there’s a greater capacity for change. Change management is necessary now more than ever, because it allows us to understand and respond to the demands of change without fear.
About Robert Bogue, CIP
Robert Bogue is a father, husband, community leader, and servant with over a dozen years in business. A passionate learner and educator, Robert has editor credit on over 100 books, author credit on 27 books and numerous courses. Robert is also a recovering technologist with 17 years as a Microsoft MVP. He reads and reviews a book each week on non-technical topics, distilling the wisdom of many into a set of discovered truths. His Discovered Truths (http://www.discoveredtruths.com) project teaches everyone in the organization key interpersonal skills through short, engaging videos delivered each week to every employee. You can follow Robert on his blog at http://www.thorprojects.com/blog.